SCOOP: What really happened at the infamous Dan DiDio/Hire More Women incident

201107291419 SCOOP: What really happened at the infamous Dan DiDio/Hire More Women incident

Okay by now you’ve all heard about how the topic of women working in superhero comics (and women geeks, but that’s another post) was the talk of the town at Comic-Con. At each of the daily DC New 52 panels, a woman dressed as Batgirl would ask about more women characters, what characters her daughter should dress as and more, to an increasingly hostile reception among other attendees. There’s much more on this woman and her reception on the internet but we’ll get to that in a moment.

I was only able to attend one DC New 52 panel, and it was the first one on Thursday, the one that has gotten a particular soundbite spread all around the internet. DC has made all their panels available as podcasts, and I guess if you are a real Kremlinologist you’ll want to comb over these tapes for clues and evidence. I do want to talk about the panel I attended, because there are some things that happened that I witnessed that I haven’t seen reported, and some other private moments that I witnessed that I think add to the whole picture. So here’s what I know:

This first panel was a hot ticket as everyone thought this would be where the most sparks flew. I attended the panel with our own first timer, Ali Colluccio. The line was humongous — I really didn’t think we’d get in. Ironically, we were standing only two people behind Rich Johnston, who as busily posting and taking phone calls even while standing in line — that guy worked his ass off at the Con, for sure.

As Ali and I chatted we got into a conversation with the man standing in front of us, who managed a store in Burbank called Emerald Knights. He introduced himself and gave me his card, but it doesn’t have his name on it, and I didn’t write it down, so I’ll call him The Owner. his name is Jason. Of course I asked him what he thought of the relaunch, and he was generally positive. However, he said “I’m concerned that they’ve gone from 12% women to 1% women creators.”

I allowed that I was surprised to hear a MAN saying this, as it usually seemed to be the female element that was complaining. Jason told us that his wife is a writer, and he sees getting more women in the business as part of growing it. Clearly a man of vision!

When we got into the room (just about the last to get in, I might add!) few seats remained so Ali and I and Jason all sat in the far left of the room. The panel began — you can read my live blog here. Ali and I both had our laptops out taking notes, so we were both head down working.

And then this happened:

It is, of course, Jason who yelled out the “Hire More Women” comment, and the 12-to-1% statistic. Dan DiDio runs a pretty aggressive panel, but the badgering tone that came out of transcripts is pretty clear in the audio. Jason didn’t have a list of people to be hired at hand, so didn’t answer right away.

What you can’t tell from the audio is that the first person to suggest a name was Rich Johnston, who yelled out “Alex DeCampi!” — that’s why Dan sounds so brusque about that suggestion. (Plus, I don’t think Alex is much interested in working for the Big Two at this point.) It was Ali who yelled out “Nicola Scott!” — just after the audio cut out, someone else suggested Carla Speed McNeill. I myself yelled out a name that I can’t even remember now (I think I told Rich about it later so maybe he does.) I think it might have been M.K. Reed or Faith Erin Hicks.

You can listen to the rest of the panel in the DC podcast. However, what no one has reported is that after the panel, Dan DiDio came over to talk to Rhe Owner, in a very polite and friendly manner, about three feet away from me. I was busy packing up my gear, and I don’t work for the News of the World, so I wouldn’t write about a private conversation, and I wasn’t standing around listening. However I did hear Dan say the following to Jason:

“We’re just trying to hire the best people–”

And then…I saw red.

I’m sure I sounded really screechy but at this point I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and blurted out “But some of the best people ARE women!”

Dan turned to me and said “I know that. And we are trying.”

He wasn’t at all as confrontational in this private moment as he was on the panel, to his credit, but it wasn’t really the place for a long conversation, so I left him to talk to Jason, who is free to chime in with any of his thoughts on the incident.

Dan repeated a variation on the “We’re trying to hire the best people,” line on several other panels when confronted with The Woman Question, so it’s pretty clear that this is his standard line. Now, maybe it means “the best people for the book no matter whoever they are” but it ALSO SOUNDS like he’s saying “We are hiring the best people, who are only 1% women.”

I’m going to analyze the fallout from all of this in a later post, but it’s instructive to read the DC Women Kicking Ass’s interview with Kyrax2, the Batgirl who came to Gotham to bedevil DC.

The thing I don’t understand, is why Didio is so actively hostile to questions about female creators? Consider a couple of other ways the conversation could have gone: Q: Are you committed to hiring more women? A: Yes. (cheers from the audience, I sit down)


Kyrax2 mentions that Paul Cornell, at least, had a more conciliatory response:

On the other hand, Paul Cornell came directly to where I was sitting as soon as the New 52 panel ended and said, “I heard what you said, and I’d like to take a minute to try to sell to you directly.” He told me that his new swords and sorcery comic, Demon Knights, would have a majority female cast and that he was committed to keeping it that way. I am utterly uninterested in swords and sorcery, but I will be subscribing to a full year of Demon Knights anyway, because Paul Cornell made me feel like he cared about my opinion, both as a fan and as a human being.


I don’t know if Dan Didio knew that Jason was a retailer, but whether he did or not, it’s to his credit that he did come over after the panel to address him directly. I might be entering the realm of opinion here, but if you listen to panels with Dan DiDio on them, as noted, he likes to be confrontational — it’s his style. He also, as I’ve noted before, likes to tweak fanboys and fangirls by teasing the things they want the most.

Some of this makes sense — J.K. Rowling is the prime example of how ignoring fan requests makes material stronger and keeps them on the hook even longer.

But I think this whole incident shows that this confrontational, “Who should we hire???” attitude is an example of diminishing returns. Is it SO HARD for Dan DiDio to say “We are trying to get more women involved. Next.” Instead of using the word “best” which doesn’t make anyone look good.

Occam’s Razor. Maybe DC is struggling to find women creators who can write their books, in an attempt to broaden their audience, but no one has shown up yet.

Or maybe DC doesn’t think women are good at writing and drawing superheroes. I can tell you for a fact that when I worked there (1999-2002), there were several editors who felt this way. I know because they told me, clearly and to my face.

That was nearly a decade ago, and perhaps the corporate culture has changed entirely since then. Perhaps this idea has been eradicated from the halls, banned from the watercooler and held up to scorn.

Or maybe it still lingers in closets and dark corners.

To be honest, I don’t know which it is.

But the phrase “We’re trying to hire the best people,” used over and over again, SUGGESTS that the idea hasn’t entirely gone away.

Even if it isn’t true.

Mr. DiDio, tear down those walls. You say you want a new audience?

Prove it.

To be continued.

Comments

  1. See, to me it sounds like the sum of DiDio’s comments (including the private ones) means that what he is saying is, “We are trying to hire great female creators, but not all of them are available, and so the percentage looks screwy even though we are trying.” Which isn’t the kind of thing he’d say, leaving him with “We are trying,” and “I know.”

  2. “We’re just trying to hire the best people–”

    DCnU’s most prolific writers are Geoff Johns (which makes sense) and Scott Lobdell.

    Yeah, I don’t believe that “We’re just trying to hire the best people”. Especially when Lobdell has gone on record that he was hired because he’s buddies with Harras and Lee.

  3. Wouldn’t it be amazing if (since you mentioned her) DC got J.K. Rowling to write a mini of some kind? ANY kind?

    That would be like printing money.

  4. I’d like to know what drives the 12% number down to 1% — was it an expansion in the staff while the raw number of women remained the same? Was it that some women left of their own volition? Is it that there are projects with female creators in development that aren’t on the schedule yet?

    Isn’t Nicola Scott on a book? If not, is there one coming? Did she lose exclusive to DC? If so, was it her volition? I saw her signing at the DC booth at least. Every time I see her I ask when she will do some non-DC work, and I suspect I’m not alone there. Lots of other books that she would be great on.

  5. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if (since you mentioned her) DC got J.K. Rowling to write a mini of some kind? ANY kind?”

    Maybe it could be the adventures of a boy wizard in glasses with a pet owl.

    They could call it “Books of Magic”.

  6. Jason Enright says:

    Hi Comics Beat,

    My name is Jason Enright. I am the man in question in this article. I work for Emerald Knights in Burbank, and though I am not the owner, I manage our comics section and was our representative at Comic Con. I guss my comment has been spreading on the internet like wildfire.

    I have to say I am actually a big fan of DC and of Marvel. I often have to navigate my three lives as a fan, as a retailer, and as a proud husband of a talented female writer. During this panel I just couldn’t stand it anymore and went the route of the proud husband and shouted out “Hire More Women”. I wish when Didio confronted me I had a list of names memorized to answer him back but sadly I didn’t.

    I have to say that Didio was ver polite and helpful after the panel. He told me that they tried to hire more women but they were working in a very tight window of scheduling and some creators couldn’t drop everything to write a new book because they had other contractual obligations. He did tell me that there were more titles written by women coming down the line. I’ll take him on his word for that.

    I do feel that there was some overall tone-deafness to the women fans to the fans concerned about women at this year’s Comic Con. I can only hope that they have finally gotten the message and that being what i believe to be a good company will work harder at diversity in the future

  7. Jason Enright says:

    To answer the question about the statistics. DC is ending all its regularr lines in August and relaunching 52 new books in september. On the september slate there are two books with women working on them as artist or writer. In fact it is the same woman, Gail Simone, and on one book she is cowriting. When you do all the math it comes out to like 1.8% of their creative teams have women on them if you count Gail twice. I suppose I could have rounded up to 2 percent in my comment but in the heat of the moment 1 percent is what I said.

    Nicola Scott is doing a book in October for them but that information was not available to me at the time I made the comment.

  8. The Beat says:

    Jason, thanks for stepping up and adding to my story.

    EDIT: I actually ran into Nicola Scott on the train up to LA. She said she is finally working on something for DC, so the ranks are swelling.

  9. ComicBookCandy says:

    I recently saw an Onion headline that aptly applies to this situation. “Local white man knows just the right white man for the job.”

    You can’t have a conversation about hiring more female creators without discussing the need to create more titles FOR female readers. Didio wasn’t being untruthful, DC is definitely hiring the best people for their current product. Which is aimed squarely at males age 12-30. Until they commit to creating more titles aimed at the other half of the population, their hiring practices will contunue to reflect their product.

    Also, ditto for Marvel.

  10. Pretty sure I’ve read multiple times that there are more female creators involved in the later waves of DC books, since they’re trying to work ahead on numerous titles. But I guess everyone can just ignore that and keep bitching.

  11. Ryan: yes yes the magical “We have more titles coming!!!!” When they are announced we will laud them and carry them through the streets on a golden litter.

    From private conversations at SDCC, a LOT of what is being spun out of this is just that — spin. There are several “facts” being mentioned over and over again that are not facts at all, but ass coverage.

    Meanwhile Marvel’s #1 book for September features a woman artist.

    Once again, I direct everyone to the issue of Alter Ego covering all this 10 years hence for the real story.

  12. Heidi: So will everyone apologize when these books come out? Or will we just move on to the next injustice?

    Why should fans dictate to a company who they “should” hire?

  13. More women were approached to do the books as evinced by Kathryn Immonen on the Word Balloon podcast interview.

    And where’s the criticism of the Marvel sausage fest?

  14. Kristy says:

    Speaking of JK Rowling, I would pay good money for a faithful adaptation of the Harry Potter books in comic book form (similar to Marvel’s Oz books). Warner has the rights, Warner owns DC. My money’s on the table so make this happen, DC!

  15. scott (the other one) says:

    “And where’s the criticism of the Marvel sausage fest?”

    The “but he peed on the carpet TOO!” defense stops working for most people when they’re five years old.

  16. “Why should fans dictate to a company who they “should” hire?”

    They do: with sales.

    To that end, there are numerous creators attached to the DCnU books that haven’t had a success in years.

    Or, in OMAC writer Dan Didio’s case, ever.

  17. Marvel is getting a pass in all this because we’ve actually seen some effort from them in the past two years and have a number of female creators in their ranks. Also, because Marvel isn’t relaunching their entire line with the promise that they’re going after a new audience (while seeming to mainly be going after the dudes who read comics in the ’90s and stopped)

    And Heidi, which issue of Alter-Ego was that? I’ll have to track it down.

  18. @Steve: Exactly. Vote with your dollar. Not by being a dick at conventions.

  19. FotoCub says:

    I too was concerned about the answer itself (tone aside) and wondered about it for days. I finally broke down and shared the scenario with my best friend, non-comics reader, and Senior VP of Human Resources for a national health care company. What he told me made the situation a lot more clear.

    There is no other answer you can give to that question and still protect your company from legal action, deserved or not. “We hire the best people for the job” is it.

    My friend provided Dan’s responses, reflective questions and all, without me having to share them before hand, only giving him the questions he received from the crowd. Dan is a corporate executive and I am sure well prepped by HR or legal at Time Warner for this very question. Any executive would be an irresponsible fool to answer any other way, according to my friend.

    Does this mean DC isn’t trying? Of course not. Does it mean they’re doing enough? Of course not. Does it mean we’ll never get a response that a fan will consider satisfactory. Yep. There are business considerations here that outweigh a commitment to discussion with fans.

    But should fans stop asking? Never. Just don’t be surprised if it’s not a two-way conversation. I guess the proof has to be in the books ultimately.

  20. Also, regarding Marvel: We KNOW it’s lopsided. We KNOW it’s a sausagefest. All of comics is (and all of publishing, for that matter)…

    …but there’s a difference between saying “less than 20% of your creators are women; do something about it!” and going “WTF? You had 12% women, and you decided that was 11% TOO MANY?!”

  21. Sparks says:

    Hi,

    Jayson : I really like your shop. You’re just a few blocks from my home and I’ve shopped there a few times for both comics and games. You guys run an awesome place, so keep up the good work.

    Now on to the Dido thing.

    I completely agree that all of comics needs more women. However, something that struck me from the audio (I wasn’t there) was the tone of the questioners. Which was honestly, hostile. Now that might be my misunderstanding from just listening to the audio, but that whole exchange, including the one from “Batgirl” was clearly one of hostility. It felt as if people showed up to that panel with their own preconceived ideas as to the diminished role of women on books and shot out with anger.

    I just don’t think that’s any way to try to have a meaningful discussion about the subject and while Dido probably should have handled himself better I’m not sure that it was the giant INCIDENT that many have made it out to be. Listening to that I felt as if she was basically calling him a misogynist with her tone. I don’t know about you, but I would have taken offense to that.

    Again. A) I wasn’t there and B) I’m not saying that Dido couldn’t have handled himself better. I just think that as people that care about this thing we need to also bring our best game to the table and only then can we expect that in kind.

    Cheers

  22. BobbInIrving says:

    I attended the Dallas Roadshow, and asked Dan why there were not more women on the announced 52 books. First he said that the market today in not like the 80-90’s where women creators could get their start. Later he said something that so shocked me I could not even come up with a reply.

    What he said was, “Women professionals don’t want to write female heroes”

    I’ve tried to tell myself I was hallucinating, but my compatriots told me I should have pressed the issue. How I could have still bugs me today.

    Bobb

  23. Joe S. Walker says:

    Not going to reprove anyone for using the spiteful and borderline obscene expression “sausage fest”? Guess it’s another stale-fish party.

  24. Remember, Joe, hating men is ok.

  25. @Ryan

    Can I still hate Dan Didio?

  26. Ryan: Was it only Kyrax2 who was a dick or does DiDio’s badgering Jason for names count?

  27. @Fotoclub. I am going to post the same link that I gave you when you posted that explanation on my blog. I don’t think there anything preventing Didio about talking about hiring more women. Here’s how NBC (which is a tad bigger than DC Comics) did it:
    http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/archives/angela_bromstads_legacy_at_nbc_-_women_writers_on_community/

  28. Synsidar says:

    Why should fans dictate to a company who they “should” hire?

    Because “best” doesn’t mean anything specific in the context DiDio placed it in. It could refer to the best-selling comics, the people with the best name recognition, the best at satisfying editorial demands (e.g., at doing event tie-ins), the best people available at a given time, or the people who produce the best work in an aesthetic sense.

    If a guy is producing terrible work, stories or artwork crippled by obvious problems, it’s hard to argue that other people shouldn’t be given shots at landing assignments. Perhaps publishing poor work is a systemic editorial problem; perhaps it’s due to isolated instances of poor performance. In any case, soliciting submissions from female professionals doesn’t have any evident drawbacks. At worst, evaluating submissions takes staff time; they might discover talent superior to their existing talent that will appeal to readers who aren’t currently customers.

    SRS

  29. Marvel has done a lot of women-created and female-skewing titles lately — I agree that’s part of it. But that doesn’t mean a woman has to write Wonder Woman! Or a man has to write Batman. And look at all the artists, ex-artists, and (cough) V.P.s!! who are writing some of these #1s — why them if not an Old Boys Club? A relaunch designed for new readers who don’t indulge in cult of personality buying habits would have been a great opportunity to showcase someone new.

    I think what’s missing is the strong editorial hand of yore. Johns the writer? Or Lee the artist? Or DiDio the cartoon guy? Instead of promoting these guys, I wish they would have promoted an honest-to-gosh editor like Karen Berger. Someone who can manage talent and has vision — just like Julie did. Then you’d see some stuff.

  30. Couple things I feel compelled to say about this:
    1. Are comic fans belligerent? More and more so. I’ve notice a lot of the vile stuff that used to be said under the cover of anonimity on the internet are being shouted out loud at people at conventions. So, I’m not arguing that. But DiDio’s reaction to that just sounds awful. I wasn’t there so, who knows, maybe he was smiling and joking when he was barking at Mr. Enright. But is sounds awful, much worse that is appear in written form. He is the public face of his company. He needs to be professional, even in the face of rudeness.
    2. DiDio coming over to the guy was good, I guess. But what he told him one on one should have been said up at the podium. If it was, the aftermath could have been much different.
    3. I love the way the comic industry works. As an example, Tracey Morgan makes a horrible, offensive joke about killing his son if he became gay. It gets spread throughout the internet like wildfire with many media markets chiming in to opine on it. Everyone involved with 30 Rock, from NBC to Tina Fey to Morgan himself starts making statements to allieviate the damage and apologize for what happened. Now, you might say what Morgan said was far worse than what DiDio said. But people hardly talked about the Morgan incident a week after it happened. Here we are still talking about the DiDio statement. I haven’t seen anything where anyone from DC or DiDio himself has said anything about this to try an do damage control. And while they are ignoring the issue, a petition over at Change.org (http://www.change.org/petitions/co-publisher-dc-comics-hire-more-women-heres-a-few-to-get-you-started) has grown to over 2,840 signatures. If the reason what there are less women working at DC because of scheduling issues, they should have come out and said it and nip this controversy in the bud. Unless, of course, they think even bad press is good press.
    4. Maybe I am naive, but I grew up in an era that if they held to the “finding the right writer for the book,” we might not have had Alan Moore on Swamp Thing or Neil Gaiman on Sandman. Because a relatively unknown Brit who was most famous in the States was for his work on Captain Britain in the UK doesn’t sound like any better a fit for Swamp Thing than an even lesser known Brit whose only major work in the States was a Black Orchid mini being allowed to rebuild a DC concept from the name up. Both of those choices were kinda risky in the day and turned out quite well.Granted, the business of comics is far shakier today than it was in the 1980s, and that kind of outside of the box thinking might not be affordable, but, really, if people aren’t buying a JT Krul Green Arrow before the reboot, they aren’t going to be buying one after.What does it hurt to give a woman creator a chance.

    Sorry for rambling,
    Bill

  31. Sparks says:

    @Sue

    @Fotoclub’s response speaks to how Dido may have to answer in public and not about what he does behind closed doors. The Community show runner is probably free to talk about whatever he wants (especially now that Angela is gone). It’s not quite the same thing.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have more diversity in general in all walks of life, including comics.

    That said. Remember that DC is really Warner Brothers which is a pretty big company.

  32. Kid Kyoto says:

    “Speaking of JK Rowling, I would pay good money for a faithful adaptation of the Harry Potter books in comic book form (similar to Marvel’s Oz books). Warner has the rights, Warner owns DC. My money’s on the table so make this happen, DC!”

    Warner has the movie rights, Scholastic has the US publishing rights and only Rowling can authorize new material like a comic adaption.

    MAYBE Warner can authorize a comic adaption of the movies but only their lawyers know for sure.

    And Warner may not want to tarnish the HP brand with a product that, best case scenario, will sell 100k.

    It’s a lot harder than ‘make it happen’.

  33. COMICS FAQ 101: JK ROWLING DOES NOT WANT SPIN OFF MATERIAL IN COMICS FORM.

    Period

    As for Rich’s story, with all the bad intel he’s been running (and never correcting) I take this with a grain of salt. But we shall see indeed.

  34. Chris S says:

    I think what impressed me most about “kyrax2” in that interview and in the one panel that I saw her at (the one where she was booed), was how level headed, open minded and downright unflappable she was. A far cry from the intolerant, blinding rage and bile that we get on a regular basis from the “usual suspects” on various tumblrs. Not once in that interview does she call anyone sexist, misogynist, ableist and the variety of other expletives that these “tumblrs” delight in spewing at DC/Marvel. I was particularly happy to hear about her response to Paul Cornell and how, because of his sensitivity to her concerns, she is willing to try a comic that she wouldn’t normally read. Same with her reaction to Gail Simone upon speaking to her. She’s not going to boycott Batgirl, she’s going to actually “read it” and then make up her mind (a controversial concept to be sure).

    You get a great feel for where this woman’s head is at with comments like this…

    “There’s something so down-to-earth about the way Brian Q. Miller is writing her, so positive, so human. At one point she says to Damian: “Everything doesn’t *have* to be about fear. There’s room in our line of work for *hope*, too.” That right there sums up everything I love about Steph.”

    and this….

    “buy Paul Cornell’s and Gail Simone’s books. As SilverLocust1 said to me on Twitter, “Please encourage readers to buy comics that prove reader interest, boycotting gives the people who buy all the influence.”

    I can almost hear the angry tumblr folks heads exploding after hearing that kind of positive talk.

    My girlfriend and I talked to quite a few women before, during and after various marvel and dc panels and were surprised (after months and months of tumblr outrage) how open they were to the new changes at DC. They expressed their very legitimate concerns about the lack of female writers, artists and characters but also a willingness to give everything a fair chance. Mostly though, they just talked about their favorite things that they were currently reading and looking forward to reading. No talk of boycotts and misogynists and outrage over Oracle or Mera’s lack of a head or whatever other things that people are getting ulcers over. Some of them even like the covers to Catwoman! (gasp!) exposed bra strap and all. Go figure.

    It cemented what I already knew for the most part (at least based on what I hear daily from fan girl friends of mine), that there isn’t much difference between fan girls and fan boys (something you would never know based on tumblr and other various internet comments), that they just want good stories, they aren’t all pissed off about the new 52, they‘re not perpetually angry, they don’t all hate DiDio and Lee, they know that Simone is writing Batgirl because she loves the character and that she’s not goose stepping to company orders or selling out for a paycheck. They don’t think any of that bs that we hear on various tumblrs on a daily basis.

    Personally, I agree with everything Kryax said in that interview but I think people would do well to take note of “how“ she said it. We both clapped when she was getting booed. And I think she and people like her prove that the “tone” of fandom on various “tumblrs” is the exception, not the rule.

  35. Andrew Farago says:

    Just to throw out some numbers:

    Between Shaenon K. Garrity’s Kickstarter project and the Womanthology book, there are over 1600 (and counting) backers who’ve spent $100 grand to finance two woman-created publishing ventures, and most backers pledged at least $10 (and many pledged $50 or more).

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that some of this enthusiasm would carry over if some of these same creators were producing material for DC, is it?

  36. Nicola Scott and Amanda Conner are both doing books for D.C. but they happen not to be in the september launch…Amanda on two seperate things that hit later in the year and 2012.

    I totally get what Dan is saying…he is hiring talent based on their work, not their sex. Walk in with amazing art and really, they dont care if you are male or female…all they want to know is are you available and can you do a monthly title.

    Some of the people mentioned are already busy and cannot do D.C. work…which is understandable, but I stay positive that we are bringing in new talent each year…and a lot of them happen to be female.

    Hiring writers has always been a harder task all around.

    Jimmy Palmiotti

  37. It’s true that *some* female creators don’t want to be pigeon holed as female character writers only. If that’s the only thing they’ve been offered in the past then they might turn it down and ask for something else instead.

    DC did tell retailers that their target market for the 52 relaunch was *male* readers and in particular former comic readers. So when Didio talks about the “best” writers, he’s talking about the best writers for that demographic.

    I’m half expecting offensive 90’s bad girl style covers to be part of the 2nd wave of publicity for the books.

    Overall it looks like an example of a comic publisher looking backwards instead of forward.

  38. @Chris S.- Pls 2 not b painting all women bloggers with the same brush based solely on their choice of blogging platform. KTHXBAI.

    But seriously, in my experience it is very rare for any individual or companies to be called “sexist” or “misogynist”. If you read our complaints and think, “they’re calling everyone sexist!” maybe you should unpack that interpretation.

  39. @Chris I’m a little concerned with making people’s concerns about DC into one of that includes the tone issue. The idea that your girlfriend and some of your female friends represent the entire spectrum of females in fandom can be quickly corrected by visiting just about any comics community. There are a variety of different reactions to the DC reboot and there are both males and females who have concerns about what they are seeing. The idea that “tumblrs” are some how out of step with the rest of comic fandom isn’t true. There are millions of posts made every day on Tumblr. There is no group think.
    I was thrilled to give Kyrax2 a platform on my Tumblr to explain what she was trying to do at SDCC and for her concerns in the new 52 because I’ve been raising the same issues. The reaction to the interview has been incredible and I’ve had just as many men as women commenting. I hope that her actions lead to long lasting change at DC.

  40. john layman says:

    I was told a story about how Paul Levitz had the chance to do Harry Potter comics very early on and passed on it because DC already had Books of Magic.

  41. Mikael says:

    Here we go again. Everyone rushing to the defense of female creators, but when it comes time to actually supporting the books they used to work on, those same people can’t be bothered.

    If there was this much support for Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Teen Titans, Madame Xanadu, REBELS, DV8, etc when they were on the stands, perhaps we wouldn’t need this discussion.

    Do some soul searching. If you want more work from female creators in the Big Two, you have to support them when they are out. Otherwise you’re just a blowhard.

  42. I really, really don’t want to sound like jerk here, but…*cough*
    “We’re just trying to hire the best people–”
    And that means Geoff Johns, I question Mr. Didio’s basic story evaluation judgement. I understand Blackest Night was a successful event for DC, that said it accomplished the exact opposite of what Mr. Didio’s stated intentions (reclaiming the 90’s readers and bring more readers to comics). It appealed to the already committed fan.
    When I saw the announcement for the New 52, my first thought was “oh. crap.”
    The sexism/ women creator angle wasn’t my primary concern. I’m typically indiffernt to the gender (or race or orientation, etc.) of who creates my entertainment–just as long as it is good. And frankly it just hasn’t been good at my favorite house for some time.
    So Heidi, I think you let him of easy.

  43. Frank Juliano says:

    I think the information that @ Fotocub received from his friend in HR goes a long way towards explaining why corporate-driven panels will never provide information of any worth to their readers. To wit: They are conducted by company executives whose #1 priority is protecting the business interests of their company.
    (Along with their own backsides.)
    Being talked “at” instead of “to” has long been a staple of the corporate world.
    How charming that it has taken up residence in Comic-Con fan panels as well.

    Btw, since her name keeps coming up: Nicola Scott has done some non-DC work in a graphic novel called Torn.
    It’s offered by Gestalt Publishing in Australia & is well worth everyone’s time. I picked one up in San Diego & really enjoyed it.

    Remember, folks: Date the corporate comics, marry the independent work.

  44. I think I’m probably more surprised Didio was in front of Heidi and after her comment didn’t recognize her.

    Though by looking at her dates of employment at DC maybe she never worked in the offices when Didio first started. But I’d have stayed to talk to her as well after that panel.

    I mean, when DC started posting photos from Preview Night of SDCC on their Facebook page one of the first ones they showed was Dan walking right up to Jill Petrozzi I’m sure immediately getting into a Barbara Gordon/disabled characters convo.

  45. Mikael says:

    I’m curious, in the past year, those titles that had female creators on them – how many were reviewed, supported, promoted on the Beat?

  46. Kate Willaert says:

    @TheBeat “You say you want a new audience? Prove it.”

    I dunno, I’m reminded of a blog post by Warren Ellis from a month ago, where he said:

    “For as long as I’ve known him, Dan Didio has believed the key to a resurgent DC is reclaiming all the readers the commercial medium lost in the 90s. On the DC Retailer Roadshow, he’s been hammering this home. Recent statements about how commercial comics have gotten boring and that there should be more visual punch in the mode of 90s comics movements like the early Image Comics work and (unspoken, but certainly associated) the Marvel style of that general period… have made their mark, but have also misled a bit. It’s all about accessing that hypothetical lost fan base. The impression the recent statements have left is Dan saying ‘comics used to sell loads back then, let’s do that again.'”

    Between the 90s Marvel creators and staff, the costume changes (Harley Quinn is a Bad Girl now?), and just the very notion of flooding the market with a wave of #1 issues (not to mention, some of those #1s being written by artists who are unproven as writers), I get the feeling that new readers are not the target. Or at least, not the primary target.

  47. FotoCub says:

    @Sue
    I did read that and found it heartening. I just read it again to remember why I thought it was different. The creator in question was essentially a freelancer quoting what a former (not current) executive said behind closed doors. As we can all imagine, lots of things are said and done behind closed doors (good and more often bad) that would put a company in dangerous legal shape if said publicly as if it were official corporate policy. That this story got out probably caused a flurry at NBC Legal/HR, because it does open their hiring practices up to litigation, deserved or not.

    Please don’t mistake my thoughts as a justification for speaking rudely to the public. It’s the words Dan used themselves that make sense given what a corporation expects of its employees. I love the result in what happened at NBC, but saying their methodology for hiring was based on gender is legally irresponsible from a corporate standpoint.

    At my company, I am unequivocally prohibited from hiring based on gender (or any other minority combination) yet I have 5/5 female staff members at a 80% / 20% (roughly) female/male ratio employee organization. I can say without a doubt I just hired the best people (brilliantly incredible people actually) regardless of gender, but I am sure corporate culture, not policy, helped us (my team and I) be a fantastic match.

  48. @Mikael: “If you want more work from female creators in the Big Two, you have to support them when they are out.”

    I DO.

    Next deflection, please.

  49. Rob Barrett says:

    I have to admit that I was just floored by kyrax2’s point about Robin. If going back to basics means rebooting Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, why does it not mean turning the clock back to make Dick Grayson (the only Robin anyone in the general public knows) Robin again? Especially we now have to apparently explain all of Dick’s and Jason’s and Tim’s and Stephanie’s and Tim’s and Damien’s careers as Robin within a 5 year time span.

  50. Sorry, Heidi, I would have replied earlier, but your post didn’t show up until I switched computers.

    At the time that Dan answered Jason’s question, please correct me if I’m wrong, but he’d already been harassed with the same question at multiple panels. The answer has already been given numerous times online that there are more female creators working on upcoming titles. I’d be frustrated by this point if I was Dan, too.

    The fact that the co-publisher of a major entertainment company has to go on his own site and repeat what’s already been stated to fans with insane entitlement issues is just mind boggling. By answering, I’m afraid Jim Lee has given any fan with an opinion the ability to demand answers to questions that they have absolutely no reason to know the answer to, nor the ability to demand an answer to.

    I’ve always known DC fans were insane, a quick look at the threads on the DC forums of Johns’ forum shows that, but it’s hit a new low this con season. Sometimes I’ve wished I was more a Marvel fan, but then there’s the whole dudebro factor I just can’t deal with.

  51. Thefreakytiki says:

    As a consumer, I do not care if the creators involved have a penis or vagina. I like what DC is setting up here creatively and I think this gender debate is kinda meh.

    The Tiki

  52. Mikael says:

    @Alexa: Great. You do. But you are just one person. So if my comment doesn’t pertain to you, why bother commenting on it? How’s that for deflection? Because I’m sure there are many – including the Beat- that don’t support all the books that have female creators on them from the Big Two. And not just writers and artists. Color artists, inkers, editors, cover artists. Gotta show up to the party if you want the right to complain.

  53. @Ryan — Dan’s JOB is to sell this new initiative. Comic Con is, first and foremost, a trade show — he is there to show and sell to prospective buyers.

    The problem is the product cannot sell itself because it is so contradictory. Superman’s death happened but he was never with Lois? Ok. Yes, it’s “insane” but these are exactly the kinds of things our community trades in. If this was an auto show, it would be horsepower or MPG. Here it is continuity and power levels. And the fact that we have moved from the “I Grok Spock” era to having a costumed vigilante visibly upsetting six-figured men of power with honest, intelligent questions is, I think, incredible.

    Our community is the only thing keeping this medium afloat — they *should* listen to us.

  54. @Trev-“I’d like to know what drives the 12% number down to 1%…”

    My understanding is that Bleeding Cool has a regular feature where a contributor “Gendercruches” the Big Two’s output. His figures take into account all named/credited females for all the books of the line. So Writers and artists, obviously, but also editors, assistant editors, inkers, colorists, cover artists if different from the interior artist, and so on. Using this info, it was found that DC usually averages from 10 to 12% female participation and Marvel averages 8 to 10%.

    Well, then DC announced it’s “The New 52″ initiative. If you’ll recall, they released the solicitation info which included only writers, artists, and cover artists. The “Gendercruncher” at Bleeding Cool did his thing to that info and the percentage dropped to the often cited 1 to 2% figure.

    As far as I know no one has every called him on his math since they were too busy being outraged.

    Still, if it leads to more good comics (from men or women) then this “tempest in a teapot” won’t have been for nothing.

  55. @Brad – Customers are not in the business to make money. They’re there to make themselves happy. If I listened to every crackpot customer’s crazy ideas, I would be out of business years ago.

    So many of these female creators mentioned over and over as fantasy baseball pics, besides being busy on other projects, are just not suited for mainstream, aimed at men, superhero comics. I’d love for DC to expand out their line of titles even further and hire people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations to make work that suits the creators. I’m sure this will happen over time, as been mentioned numerous times now.

  56. The Beat says:

    Evan: Dan and I worked at DC at the same time, and certainly know each other well enough to say hi and bye. In all the tumult he might not have seen me there.

    Mikael: Oh PLEASE.
    http://www.whenmonkeysattack.com/blog/2009/12/17/girl-comics-will-we-ever-ever-learn/

    Ryan: This was actually the FIRST New 52 panel of the con. So everyone showed up loaded for controversy.

  57. Kate Willaert says:

    @Ryan: I’m not sure DC needs any crackpot customer’s crazy ideas to go out of business, since they’re doing such a good job of it on their own.

    At the very least, hiring women who aren’t suited to doing books aimed at men wouldn’t be nearly as detrimental to sales as: 1) gradually whittling your audience down to a very small, devoted fanbase by limiting who you’re aiming your books at, then 2) launching an event that alienates a large portion of that fanbase (whittling it down even further), while 3) trying to reach out to an audience that doesn’t exist (lapsed ’90s Marvel and Image readers who’ve been wanting to get into DC), and 4) is about as accessible and appealing to new readers as the pre-event versions of the books (which is to say, not much).

    One would be forgiven for thinking that the fans currently running DC are more interested in making themselves happy than running a business.

  58. Charles Knight says:

    “Mr. DiDio, tear down those walls. You say you want a new audience?

    Prove it.”

    I doubt female creators will make an iota of difference – the 52 are still just comics about men in gimp suits punching each other in the face. If female readers weren’t interested before, they aren’t going to be interested now.

    My other half isn’t going to pick up a copy of “gimpsuitman 7″ simply because it has a female sounding name on the cover.

  59. Chris S says:

    @Alexa

    “But seriously, in my experience it is very rare for any individual or companies to be called “sexist” or “misogynist”. If you read our complaints and think, “they’re calling everyone sexist!” maybe you should unpack that interpretation.”

    So in other words, you’ve never been on the internet before?

    @dcwomenkickingass

    “I’m a little concerned with making people’s concerns about DC into one of that includes the tone issue.”

    Well, it’s the “tone” issue that I was addressing, not the validity of what was buried under that tone. It’s nice that you want to reframe my argument for me but if you don’t want to talk about “the tone issue” then I suggest you comment on another post that didn’t specifically mention “tone”. That is what I am addressing here.

    “The idea that your girlfriend and some of your female friends represent the entire spectrum of females in fandom can be quickly corrected by visiting just about any comics community.”

    So in other words your “echo chamber” is better than mine? No where in my post did I claim or even imply that my experiences with fans and friends represented the majority of fandom opinion. Unlike you who, ironically, did the exact opposite.

    I’ve been going to cons, working at booths, volunteering, specifically SDCC for over 30 years now, before tumblr, twitter, face book and comic sites existed, that still amounts to “my own“ experience, considerable as it is. Just like your tumblr world amounts to only “your“ experience, not the majority of Fandoms opinion. You would do well to remove the chip from your shoulder and remember that. What I’m talking about is what people say online vs what they say in a friendly convention environment to people just like them. In my experience there is a huge disconnect between what fandom on the internet is saying and what fandom at the conventions are saying and more specifically “how“ they are saying it. To deny that would be ludicrous.

    That doesn’t imply that people aren’t concerned about the same things that we see such blinding rage about online. But conventions, unlike the internet, aren’t “echo chambers”. Hate is not what’s fostered at conventions. Fun is. There is a huge disconnect between the non stop internet outrage that is fanned by people who just want to hate and complain in an environment that fosters hate for hits, and the fans at the cons who are like Kryax, who are concerned but open minded, challenging, but not insulting, who don’t say “fuck DC, fuck DiDio, etc. Incidentally, in my original post I was trying to be diplomatic, but I personally find your blog to be one of the more offensive and intolerant. I also take offense that somehow the opinions on your tumblr are somehow more legitimate. To any fair minded person NOT looking for a fight, it’s clear I wasn’t implying that anyones concerns weren’t valid, only that the anger we see on the internet is practically non existent at the conventions. When someone walks up to a fan like Cornell did to Kryax, that fan will more often than not buy that persons book because that kind of interaction can, for the most part, only happen at a convention. I’ve seen it over and over and over for decades. It’s just true. Plain and simple.

    My main point is that there are more people who are “concerned” than “outraged”. There are more fans who would read Batgirl if they actually talked to Gail Simone as opposed to a legion of angry people screaming “boycott the ableists at DC“. There are more fans like Kryax who have “concerns” but are tolerant and open minded and don‘t toss around the word “misogynist“ every five seconds. I’m sure that some, perhaps many of the haters on the comic blogs and tumblrs and what not (and lets be honest, the majority of it is not positive), have either been at cons and heard, or met in person people that they said they hated, people like DiDio or Lee or Simone or Morrison, and forgotten what they were so angry about, wiped the drool from their mouths and plunked down the 3 or 4 dollars to buy what they swore on their mothers lives online they never would buy. That’s the reality. The tone on the internet is not the reality. It‘s an amplification of opinion that is rarely transfered to “real life”. It’s not the dominant mindset no matter what you might like to think.

    I’ll put my faith in 30 years of speaking to friendly conventioneers over the moronic bile on the internet any day.

    Cheers.

  60. I shouted out Carla’s name as well. If Dan hadn’t moved on, there are a batch I would have added. Devin Grayson for a start.

  61. “As for Rich’s story, with all the bad intel he’s been running (and never correcting) I take this with a grain of salt. But we shall see indeed.”

    Bad intel does sometimes occur. But I do correct it. But it’s pretty rare these days. Anyway, last time you said I was killing with the DC stuff… I think I’ve been pretty much on the money.

  62. “I’ll put my faith in 30 years of speaking to friendly conventioneers over the moronic bile on the internet any day.”

    …meaning that you’ll drink the tainted Kewl-Aid and blame the messengers rather than have an honest discussion on the topic at hand. Got it.

  63. DiDio is not the swiftest guy in the business. I can easily see him misstating his position.

    Then again, if DC’s trying to hire the best — or do anything “the best” they can — they’ve been falling far short. Maybe there are loads of terrific women out there but DC’s really looking for mediocre ones who can fit it with a mediocre DC, and there’s a much smaller pool of mediocrities than real talents.

    And of course, there’s all the genre issue — far fewer women are interested in mainstream DC than guys.

  64. Kristy says:
    07/29/2011 at 2:45 pm

    “Speaking of JK Rowling, I would pay good money for a faithful adaptation of the Harry Potter books in comic book form (similar to Marvel’s Oz books). Warner has the rights, Warner owns DC. My money’s on the table so make this happen, DC!”

    I’ve heard from several industry pros over the years that JK Rowling had turned down suggestions for a Harry Potter comic strip for whatever reasons. I’d speculate that she didn’t want anyone else adding to the story arc she had planned, which is fair enough if that was the case. (Personally I’ve never read a Harry Potter book or seen any of the movies so I don’t know if a sequel comic book would be feasible now or not.)

  65. “Hire More Women”

    For crying out loud! Female creators have dodged a bullet by not working for these guys. Stop trying to shove them in front of the gun.

  66. svenj says:

    “Meanwhile Marvel’s #1 book for September features a woman artist. ”

    —what a b.s. blow-off line that is. so, Heidi, what percentage of Marvel’s books have female creators? why are you an apologist for them?

    isn’t that relevant? or does your long bloodied DC Axe need some grinding here? DC is as sucky at this as everyone else in the industry, but everyone else gets a pass. that’s what i don’t get.

    and Heidi, what was the percentage of female creators at the Legendary Books panel you hosted? did you bring this issue up on that panel?

  67. I have a question: in almost 75 years, has a woman ever written a Superman story? I know Grayson and Simone have written the character here and there, but in an actual Superman comic?

    So if no one has ever really done it, why are some people so sure it can’t be done? That’s the crux of this issue.

  68. Marvel in the last year: Girl Comics, Kathryn Immonen’s Pixie, Heralds, and Wolvy and Jubilee limited series (among others), Rebekah Isaacs on Iron Age….plus Anita Blake. There are others, but just the top of my head.

    and actually, I half-gut-responded because I think she may have written a Superman issue(?) too.

  69. “Meanwhile Marvel’s #1 book for September features a woman artist. ”

    What book is this?

    “I have a question: in almost 75 years, has a woman ever written a Superman story?”

    Simone was regular writer on Action Comics back in 2005. And Louise Simonson wrote Superman monthly for nearly all of the 90s.

  70. svenj says:

    “Marvel in the last year: Girl Comics, Kathryn Immonen’s Pixie, Heralds, and Wolvy and Jubilee limited series (among others), Rebekah Isaacs on Iron Age….plus Anita Blake. There are others, but just the top of my head.”

    —sigh. Marvel also publishes a much higher number of books than other pubs, so their creator count is going to need to be higher as well. anecdotalism doesn’t serve the argument here at all—in fact, it highlights the point that this is witch hunting…

  71. Anecdotalism? These are facts.

    Thanks for the Superman references — I should have looked that up first. I forgot Simone wrote those issues with Byrne. And Simonson! Take away my Superman card. Her run with Bog was actually my favorite Super-title back then. No more posting at the Beat without coffee first. Sorry.

  72. benwahbob says:

    To Brad: you asked “I have a question: in almost 75 years, has a woman ever written a Superman story? I know Grayson and Simone have written the character here and there, but in an actual Superman comic?”

    G. Willow Wilson and Louise Simonson,

  73. John Smith says:

    Real simple, folks:

    DC does not care about female characters.

    DC does not care about female creators.

    DC does not care about female readers.

    Why anyone would think anything else, after all of DC’s hateful violence porn of the last near-decade, is beyond me.

  74. Synsidar says:

    I doubt female creators will make an iota of difference – the 52 are still just comics about men in gimp suits punching each other in the face.

    One way to assess a writer’s skill level would be to ask him or her to plot out a complete novel-length, close-ended story about a hero — a variation on the question, “If you could do one story about _____, what would it be?” Thinking about a hero as a genre fiction character shouldn’t be difficult, but doing so does require a different approach to the character. Take Captain America, for instance. Instead of dong a story about him fighting the Red Skull or some other villain, a close-ended story might have him enter the political arena and try to use his stature as a hero to change how the federal government works — act as a force for the centrism and willingness to compromise that much of the American public is begging for right now.

    The writer could have Cap either succeed or fail, but the storyline, by having him deal with real-world issues and concerns, would treat him more as a person than most other Cap stories have done.

    Writers who can take unconventional approaches to story material as well as conventional ones would be more desirable than those who cannot — technical skill levels being equal — because they’re capable of pleasantly surprising readers. It’s hard to argue that a publisher is employing the “best” writers if the writers are laboring under restrictions which prevent them from being creative.

    SRS

  75. Dear Ryan Higgins.

    The fans are not jerks for asking questions at a Q&A panel. I’ve seen you and other people elsewhere on the internet suggesting that these questions were rude.

    Far from it: this is what is what the format was designed for. You do not understand the concept of Q&A panels if you believe that these fans were “rude.”

    Dan DiDio’s job is to field such questions, to do so with class and finesse and to win support for his company’s brand. He failed spectacularly in this case.

    Or, in short: you are wrong. It would be nice if you disengaged from this line of argumentation.

  76. Steve Horton says:

    DC should hire Afua Richardson. She drew a one-page Captain Marvel story that I wrote for DC a couple years back, and since then drew Genius for Top Cow and several covers here and there. She’s brilliant and can do a monthly.

    Plus, she sang backup for a singer on Jimmy Fallon while drawing that page. How surreal was that?

  77. @Kate

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information from on customer reaction to the relaunch. It’s probably from the message boards because if you worked in retail or asked a retailer about the New 52, you’d hear about how new customers and old readers are very interested.

    I had a customer come in who said that he hasn’t read comics in over 10 years and wanted to reserve every issue #1. I had people coming in specifically for the New 52 Preview book. There is an excitement for this relaunch that isn’t shown online. The people claiming that they’re dropping every DC title and they’re out of comic books forever? They’re outliers. DC is going to do gangbusters in September.

    This IS going to attract new readers and it WILL bring old readers back into the fold.

  78. Kate Willaert says:

    @Ron: Oh, I have no doubt the #1s will end up doing gangbusters. On top of it being a big event, I’m sure the #1s will temporarily draw in some of the old speculators as well. But how will things be looking by the time the books have reached #5 or #6? That’s what I’m curious to see.

    @Brad: A few people have already mentioned Simonson on Man Of Steel. But y’know what kind of bugs me? Is it just me, or has it seemed like DC has traditionally only ever been willing to support one female writer doing regular DCU book at a time? Is it just my imagination that within a year of Gail Simone being brought in to write DCU books, Devin Grayson no longer was? Or that within a year of Devin Grayson being brought in to write DCU books, Louise Simonson no longer was? What’s the deal?

  79. Darren says:

    Steve Flack:
    “…Especially when Lobdell has gone on record that he was hired because he’s buddies with Harras and Lee.”

    Not to divert too much from the actual topic, but this is what Lobdell actually said:

    “The truth of the matter is that Bob and I shared maybe ten really awkward sentences between us in the three years we knew each before he handed me a pile of faxes and asked if I could script “Uncanny” #386 overnight in an emergency. I don’t have Bob’s cell number or his home number. I know he has three kids, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you the names of two of them. I’m sure he couldn’t tell you the name of my movie if you held a gun to his head. We are friendly because we like to work together and we share a similar sense of what makes for the best character-driven comic series.”

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=32828

  80. @Brad- “Marvel in the last year: Girl Comics, Kathryn Immonen’s Pixie, Heralds, and Wolvy and Jubilee limited series (among others), Rebekah Isaacs on Iron Age….plus Anita Blake. There are others, but just the top of my head.”

    Did all of those series sell 100,000 copies or over in, what I assume is still Marvel’s primary sells channel, the Direct Market? Don’t think so. They were marginal sellers at best. Solid performers to be sure, but you could also use them as proof that the age old adage that “DM buyers don’t/won’t buy female creators and/or characters” is true. Quality work may not always get the sales it deserves, but for company’s like DC and Marvel sales will always equal quality.

    That’s why I think now is an interesting time. DC seems to have heard and heeded the demands of their fans for more female-oriented material. If DC comes through on it’s end of the agreement will the feminist blog-ratti join them in promoting these books since high sales are the key to them being proven right that there are woman who want to read corporate-owned superhero material? Or will history repeat itself, as it often does, with the feminists criticizing every move and choice DC makes because it’s not the creators they wanted or the properties they would have chosen.

    Personally, I hope this and other projects like Womanthology will be hugely successful. If there is a rising tide of women in comics then they need to make their voices heard through sales. If that happens then I think just about everyone “wins” since it should result in much better comics all around.

  81. Darren says:

    I’m actually surprised that DC had as many as 12% female creators working on their books.

    I’m struggling to name females who had regular gigs in the pre-relaunch DCU but not after. I think Scott, Reeder and Connor have stuff coming down the pipeline. I would’ve liked Kelly Sue Deconnick to have graduated to a full-time gig. Felicia Henderson? Frankly, I’m fine with her not getting a gig in the relaunch. And … who else?

  82. Darren says:

    *Smacks head* And Gail Simone, of course.

    That still doesn’t seem like a lot of women.

  83. @Heidi – My apologies, I thought I read that this was at the Saturday or Sunday panel. Am I mistaken that Batgirl asked the question at every other panel, though?

    @Kate Willaert – Well, since I’ve increased my numbers on the DC books to an all-time high during my time as owner, and the numbers I’m hearing from some other owner are the same, it seems like DC is doing an amazing job of not going out of business. Also, weekly comics is only a part of DC’s sales. Their trade paperback department blows everyone else out of the water.

    I’d love to see DC slowly start to branch out to create other books suited to various non-mainstream readers; They’ve always done such a good job with it at Vertigo, I could see it working well within DCU proper. I do question a few of the new titles, however from strictly a sales perspective, I don’t see how having a woman work on any of these titles would be any different than a man. No one here is going to rush out to buy OMAC if a woman inked it.

    Brad mentioned: “Marvel in the last year: Girl Comics, Kathryn Immonen’s Pixie, Heralds, and Wolvy and Jubilee limited series (among others), Rebekah Isaacs on Iron Age….plus Anita Blake” The problem? Those books all have horrible sales, and were forgotten as quickly as they were published. Why rush out garbage when you can take your time and work on releasing some quality material that will have some staying power? As mentioned numerous times, DC mentioned they have many upcoming projects with female creators, but apparently no one cared to remember that until Jim Lee reminded everyone on The Source.

  84. @Rich – I’d consciously under order any book by Devin Grayson. If you’re just looking to fill a quota, go for it, but I thought this was about releasing quality.

  85. @Darryl Ayo – Q&A’s are not about demands and fan entitlement issues.

  86. Chris Hero says:

    If DC can’t find more women to hire that qualify as the “best talent,” then they’re just not looking hard enough. Willow Wilson is *phenomenal* when given the freedom to write what she wants and not write based on editorial notes. Danielle Corsetto is out there doing some of the best comic work ever on Girls With Slingshots. Not trying to go after her and talking her into doing work for you is just crazy. Gabrielle Bell should have people beating down her door with fistfuls of money; so should Lauren Barnett.

    Those are just names off the top of my head of women with wonderful portfolios of work. It’s not this hard….

  87. And unfortunately, none of those names will get me to increase my orders on any titles. There’s a huge difference between Marvel and DC and the rest of the comic industry.

  88. @Darren-“I’m actually surprised that DC had as many as 12% female creators working on their books.”

    Well, the “Gendercrunches” on Bleeding Cool included every named/credited female from the comic books. That inflates the numbers to what they are because both DC and Marvel have a virtual army of women at the assistant editor and other “behind the scenes” levels. The “Boys” may be the faces you see at conventions, but I’d bet it’s these women who are doing the unglamorous job of making sure all the trains are running on time. You remove those names from consideration and the stats for both company’s plummet.

    Also, I believe that both Kelly Sue Deconnick & Marjorie Liu have come out publicly to say that DC did approach them to pitch for a New 52 title. I think that both had to turn down the offer due to having previous commitments, either to Marvel (the Castle book for Deconnick?) or her novels (Liu?). Would there pitches have been accepted if they had? I don’t know that for sure, but it does prove that DC was approaching known/proven female talent with offers of work. This says to me that the reduction in female talent represented at the company, however unfortunate, was not intentional.

  89. Higgins: ever stop and consider why you’re so hostile toward the very notion of women working in comics?

  90. @Chris Hero

    If those women are interested in doing corporate super-hero comics for DC, then I hear they are looking for female talent. They should apply if DC does not approach them.
    However, I imagine any talent acquired by the company will have “draws in the Jim Lee style” and “is willing to take editorial notes” as a prerequisite. It’s House-style or no style, that’s just the way DC does business, unless you can prove them wrong by selling lots of books.
    And, to be fair, it’s not like DC doesn’t also require this of it’s male talent so women will finally have the equality they’ve demanded for so long.

  91. @Darryl Ayo – I’m not in any way, shape or form. Might be a bit like saying your best friend is gay, but as I’m typing this, I’m wearing a Chynna Clugston “Blue Monday” t-shirt, one of my favorite creators and favorite comics. Wish she’d do more!

    I have problems with fans with extreme entitlement issues who feel they can demand certain things from companies, who feel these companies owe them something other than the physical product they pay for. I have problems with fans who, when presented with the fact that multiple female creators were approached about working on titles and either turned them down due to conflicting schedules or who accepted and are working on books due out in the upcoming months but cannot be announced due to the solicitation not being out yet, still continue to press a matter that’s already been resolved.

  92. Andrew Farago says:

    How many books perform really well in the direct market apart from books featuring the most popular, proven characters? Girl Comics may not have sold a ton of copies in comic shops, but it’s rare for any non-event miniseries to have a big sales impact, isn’t it?

    If a woman writes the main Avengers title, it will still sell a whole bunch of copies. If you put that same writer on Tigra mini-series, that somehow proves that people won’t support female characters or creators.

  93. @Ryan Higgins: the matter is NOT resolved until the books actually come out. Publishers make phony promises all the time…like the original ones about ‘diversity’ in DC’s current output that DiDio and Lee have promised in the past. Now that they’ve been caught with their pants down, somehow ‘everyone should just shut up now’, because the PR spin claims that it’s been settled. It’s NOT.

  94. Synsidar says:

    Ryan, the justification for asking loaded questions at a convention is that it might be the only way to get a comics executive to address the issues. They don’t do hostile interviews; they don’t respond directly to critical articles in the trade press, because there is minimal trade press. The quality of the storytelling affects how graphic novels and independent publications are marketed; it doesn’t affect how the Big Two’s superhero comics are marketed.

    Too many of the fans want fetish fiction. As long as the material satisfies their particular preferences, they’re happy; if it’s different or demands more involvement than they’re willing to invest, they reject it. There’s no superhero comics writer I’m aware of who has been compared to Steve Gerber; that’s not because nobody else can write humorous/sardonic/sarcastic material, but because much of the current readership is conditioned to reject such material.

    Good sales have never been connected directly to quality. If a publisher puts out material he knows is good, but sales are low, then it’s better to develop a market for the material than it is to conclude that “good doesn’t sell” and cater to the fetishists. The company’s reputation will suffer, and if the fetishists are lost, there will be no other customers to turn to.

    SRS

  95. Chris S says:

    @KET

    “…meaning that you’ll drink the tainted Kewl-Aid and blame the messengers rather than have an honest discussion on the topic at hand. Got it.”

    Talking to real people vs internet flamers like you equals “drinking Kewl-Aid”? Okay, give me more “Kewl-Aid then. And where in my comment did I “blame the messenger”? Oh right, your a troll, so you just make stuff up to respond to. Got it.

  96. Darren says:

    @X:

    “Well, the “Gendercrunches” on Bleeding Cool included every named/credited female from the comic books. That inflates the numbers to what they are because both DC and Marvel have a virtual army of women at the assistant editor and other “behind the scenes” levels … You remove those names from consideration and the stats for both company’s plummet.”

    Wow, if this is the case, then the people bandying the “12% to 1%” figure should be ashamed of themselves. Because I don’t think the full credits for every title in the new 52 have been released, so we’re comparing apples and oranges.

    I’m not saying there isn’t an underlying problem. But you could argue the case well enough through the facts. There’s no need to LIE about things.

  97. Chris Hero says:

    @X

    I’ve spoken to Wilson and Corsetto about working for corporate comics. Wilson’s story was she’s trying, but is really discouraged, because DC kinda throws her the scraps with a bunch of editorial mandates.

    Corsetto is too busy busting her ass making the best comic on the web, but she wouldn’t turn down some of that corporate money for an opportunity or two.

    I’m just saying, if DC’s line is they’re trying to find the best possible talent, they’re not looking too hard.

    I’m not saying you have to hire those names, but Hell, at least ask them once in a while….

  98. blacaucasian says:

    “I’m just saying, if DC’s line is they’re trying to find the best possible talent, they’re not looking too hard.”

    Except your, mine, and probably every editor at DC have a different definition of what “talent” is. It’s a subjective term. Lots of people think Grant Morrison is the most brilliant writer in comics. Lots of other people think it’s overly obtuse and unreadable.

    Talent, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  99. blacaucasian says:

    Incidentally, I bet number crunching black creators for the New 52 would equal if not come in less than the percentage of women working on these books.

    Just saying.

  100. @Chris Hero

    Well, let those woman know that they are in luck since DC is looking to hire more women. If they have the talent and passion for corporate super-hero work then they should let DC know they’re available through whatever channels are used for info like that to be communicated. DC may have to approach them with an offer of work, but they won’t unless they know the person is available.

  101. Wrong, Higgins: people ARE entitled to ask questions. It was a Q&A panel.

    PR persons are NOT entitled, however, to barking back at questioners.

    The comic industry is driven by cowardice. People have failed to be publicly directly critical of these corporations for far too long. They shouldnt be deferred to.

    Do you defer to all big businesses? Do you take Wal-Mart’s word on everything they say?

    Do you kneel before all authority figures, real or imagined?

  102. @Ryan: Sales was not part of the initial point of “Why is Marvel exempt?” Sales aside, Marvel is showing that they are trying to a) employ female writers and b) release titles with more women characters.

    Still can’t believe I forgot Louise Simonson!! One of the architects of the biggest events in comics history!! Not worthy….

  103. @Darryl – There’s a bit of a difference between Wal-Mart’s questionable/illegal practices and DC not having many women on the current books. Nice try, though. I’m going to stand by DC’s decisions on their characters more than idiotic fanboys/girls on the internet with zero knowledge about business or publishing practices.

    Fans have been bitching to comic book companies since the dawn of the letter column. The day fans dictate to creators what they must do is the day I’ll probably stop reading comics. I’ll give you the occasional letterhack that gets a job in comics, but until Batgirl is hired by DC to run their Girl Comics line, no, I don’t care what she says or thinks about their business.

    Are you just blatantly ignoring the fact that DC stated numerous times that they have women working on upcoming projects, or are you just trolling at this point?

    @Brad – Unfortunately, sales are all that matter in a business world. DC does employee female creators. DC has many, many, many books featuring female characters. So I don’t understand your point.

  104. Andrew Farago up there makes a good point – one possible reason female creators don’t “sell well” is because most of the chances they’re given are on minis, one-shots, and small-fry ongoings, which rarely top the charts in the first place.

    A better way to test a female creator’s sales potential would be to put her on a major title like Action Comics or Amazing Spider-Man. If sales tank, then . . . oops! But if they don’t – if they hold steady, fall only slightly, or even bump up a little – it would show that hiring women to make comics isn’t the massive cosmic danger some people play it up as.

    (Of course, this experiment would only hold water if the female creator had a level of talent similar to the male creator preceding her. No rigging the game with legitimately terrible comickers, please!)

  105. Kate Willaert says:

    @Ryan: I’ll give you that adding more female creators isn’t as simple as people are making it out to be.

    The truth is that its difficult to bring in new or lesser known writers in general right now, regardless of gender or race. The problem is that “mainstream” comics has gotten so small and insular, that it can’t support enough monthly books to bring in newer talent without pushing out older talent. So, newer creators are competing for jobs with established creators, who have an edge in that they’re already established.

    Until steps are taken to try and make “mainstream” comics more accessible to a wider audience (i.e. the real mainstream) so that the industry can support more books, we’re basically stuck with the old guard. Who are mostly male because — as Heidi pointed out in the article — the old guard wasn’t real into hiring women to be writers or artists.

    @The Beat: This might seem like a random question, but do you remember that Design A Superhero contest Disney Adventures did? I’m pretty sure that was while you were there, anyways. Out of curiosity, do you remember how many of the character submissions were from girls? I think that would be kind of interesting.

  106. @Kate – For me, it seems like people just want to plug in female creators to fill some quota, and I disagree with the whole concept. I don’t care who the creator is, as long as they’re dedicated to the material they’re creating. There are so many female comic creators doing work in small press, graphic novels, manga, and web comics, I guess I don’t understand why some people need them to write the “old, white men created” characters they like, as opposed to tracking down new work. Getting women into DC (or Marvel, for that matter) isn’t going to expand comics in any fashion. I see a lot of new creators coming into Marvel and DC because the material they’re writing in the small press is similar to what Marvel and DC want brought to their books.

  107. Kate Willaert says:

    @Ryan: Because women like the “old, white men created” characters, too. It’s not like the theaters for The Dark Knight and the Avengers movies are filled with only white males and some bored women. People of all varieties love these characters.

    Adding more women writers and artists isn’t going to necessarily automatically bring a wider audience, but it will help start to tear down the boy’s club mentality that still exists in the industry, as well as inspiring a new generation of aspiring female artist and writers that “hey, I can do that too.”

    But you’re right, I don’t like the idea of a quota either. That there are so few female comics creators isn’t so much an issue of equal opportunity, as it is a symptom of a bigger problem: an inability to appeal to a wider audience, and at times an unwillingness to do so.

    Decades of impenetrable, convoluted storylines, multiple books about the same character(s) with no clear entrance series, resorting to shock value over substance, and T&A have become so ingrained in “mainstream” comics that I’m not sure the old guard knows any other way to go about it. Hell, T&A poses were so common in the ’90s that it became normalized, many us are desensitized to it now. We rarely think about how comics look to someone encountering them for the first time.

    It’s really not that hard to see why the Batman and Avengers (and X-Men) comics are unable to grab a really significant chunk of the movie-going audience who enjoy these characters, but if any of the above four items are pointed out as reasons (convoluted stories, no clear entrance, cheap shocks, T&A), it’s like they refuse to believe it. There’s got to be some other reason. In the end, they decide to stay the course, continuing to go for short term gain over long term growth. Hey, I don’t think it’s hard enough for a potential new reader to decide what Wolverine monthly they want to start with, let’s launch another one.

  108. Like @Higgins said, there’s lots of of female comic creators and characters out there. It’s just sad that we have to make a point to seek them out. It’s actually a shock to me when I, w/o looking, am presented with a non-white or non-male author/lead. It reiterates the idea that our dominant narratives and stories are about white men. It makes me feel invisible.

    I can deign to buy Marvel and DC comics but they make a lot of movies so their influence is unavoidable. I was excited about Avengers until I got through Thor and realized that they had pumped out 5 movies in the last three years about white men. That excitement was deflated right quick.

    But I’m glad DC is trying to “hire the best people” and that there are women out there, somewhere, making good stuff and being kick ass leads. But I’m more glad that there are women (and men) out there who ignore the tone trolling and speak up against the idea that we can’t be mainstream.

  109. Christopher says:

    “I’m a little concerned with making people’s concerns about DC into one of that includes the tone issue.”

    Well, it’s the “tone” issue that I was addressing, not the validity of what was buried under that tone. It’s nice that you want to reframe my argument for me but if you don’t want to talk about “the tone issue” then I suggest you comment on another post that didn’t specifically mention “tone”. That is what I am addressing here.

    “The idea that your girlfriend and some of your female friends represent the entire spectrum of females in fandom can be quickly corrected by visiting just about any comics community.”

    So in other words your “echo chamber” is better than mine? No where in my post did I claim or even imply that my experiences with fans and friends represented the majority of fandom opinion. Unlike you who, ironically, did the exact opposite. I’ve been going to cons, working at booths, volunteering, specifically SDCC for over 30 years now, before tumblr, twitter, face book and comic sites existed, that still amounts to “my own“ experience, considerable as it is. Just like your tumblr world amounts to only “your“ experience, not the majority of Fandoms opinion. You would do well to put aside your arrogance and remember that. What I’m talking about is what people say online vs what they say in a friendly convention environment to people just like them. In my experience there is a huge disconnect between what fandom on the internet is saying and what fandom at the conventions are saying and more specifically “how“ they are saying it. To deny that would be ludicrous.

    That doesn’t imply that people aren’t concerned about the same things that we see such blinding rage about online. But conventions, unlike the internet, aren’t “echo chambers”. Hate is not what’s fostered at conventions. Fun is. There is a huge disconnect between the non stop internet outrage that is fanned by people who just want to hate and complain in an environment that fosters hate for hits, and the fans at the cons who are like Kryax, who are concerned but open minded, challenging, but not insulting, who don’t say “f**k DC, f**k DiDio, etc. Incidentally, in my original post I was trying to be diplomatic, but I find your blog to be one of the more offensive and intolerant. I also take offense that somehow the opinions on your tumblr are somehow more legitimate. To any fair minded person NOT looking for a fight, I clearly wasn’t implying that anyones concerns weren’t valid, only that the anger we see on the internet is practically non existent at the conventions. When someone walks up to a fan like Cornell did to Kryax, that fan will more often than not buy that persons book because that kind of interaction can, for the most part, only happen at a convention. I’ve seen it over and over and over for decades. It’s just true. Plain and simple.

    My main point is that there are more people who are “concerned” than “outraged”. There are more fans who would read Batgirl if they actually talked to Gail Simone as opposed to a legion of angry people screaming “boycott the ableists at DC“. There are more fans like Kryax who have “concerns” but are tolerant and open minded and don‘t toss around the word “misogynist“ every five seconds. I’m sure that some, perhaps many of the haters on the comic blogs and tumblrs and what not (and lets be honest, the majority of it is not positive), have either been at cons and heard, or met in person people that they said they hated, people like DiDio or Lee or Simone or Morrison, and forgotten what they were so angry about, wiped the drool from their mouths and plunked down the 3 or 4 dollars to buy what they swore on their mothers lives online they never would buy. That’s the reality. Tumblr and the internet is not the reality. It‘s an amplification of opinion that is mistaken for a majority. It’s not the dominant mindset no matter what you might think. I’ll put my faith in 30 years of speaking to friendly conventioneers over the moronic bile on the internet any day.

  110. If I’ve learned anything from this discussion, it’s that dcwomenkickingass and Christopher have both heard from a wide array of superhero fans – likely with some overlap between them – in slightly different contexts at times when said fans have slightly different priorities (expressing concerns about the representation of various groups within superhero comics, gushing about meeting their favorite creators, etc.)

    Thankfully, a mixture of excited whimsy and heartfelt criticism are perfectly healthy, both for individuals and the industry as a whole! :[)

  111. Don’t call me “idiotic,” Higgins, you jerk. And don’t you dare accuse me of “trolling,” when YOU are the one rushing out with hostility toward the two questioners AND anyone else who shares their concerns.

    YOU ARE THE TROLL, and a syncophant for big business. DC may as well be Wal-Mart, they’re a division of AOL/Time-Warner for god sake.

    I’m glad you’re done dealing with this “idiotic fanboy,” because I’m a far ways from finished with YOUR entitled behind. Lots of luck with your “business acumen,” internet tough-guy.

  112. @Brad-“Sales was not part of the initial point of “Why is Marvel exempt?” Sales aside, Marvel is showing that they are trying to a) employ female writers and b) release titles with more women characters.”

    Are they? Or is it just better PR at work?

    For example, I just counted how many solo superhero character titles Marvel published using The Beat’s own Marvel Month-to Month Sales: May 2011 sales chart. I came up with 33 and I wasn’t even counting books with duel leads like Spider-man & Wolverine. Do you how many had women leads? 2. The only ones were Spider-Girl and X-23. Both are derivative of a more established male characters (Girl-Spiderman and Girl-Wolverine) and Spider-Girl had already been announced as cancelled due to low sales.

    Do you want to know how many DC had using the DC chart for the same month? 4. That is 4 female starring books out of another 20 with male leads. Just a note, the 4 does not include Birds Of Prey and Gotham City Sirens even though their casts are either all or mostly women. The books DC released were Batgirl, Supergirl, Powergirl, & Zatanna. That’s still a lot of derivative characters unless you count the casts of Sirens and BOP, but since they are team books and I’m not counting those for this, I won’t.

    As to your point about trying to hire more women. All we (the audience) ever know is whose pitch was accepted for a given book. We have no way of knowing if DC only received 2 pitches or 35. We have know way of knowing how many of those pitches were by men or by women. All we see is the end result. The end result of the New 52 was a reduction in the number of women.

    But was that intentional as the commentators want you to believe? I don’t think so. At least 2 women writers (Kelly Sue Deconnick & Marjorie Liu) have come forward to say that they were asked to pitch and had to decline due to previous commitments.

    There’s also know artists like Nicola Scott and Amanda Conner. Nicola Scott does not have a launch book because she was finishing out her Teen Titans run. I personally question the decision to not put one of your best artists, and Scott is one of the best that DC has in my opinion, on a launch book, but it wasn’t my call to make. I also love Amanda Conner’s work, but even she’s made it quite clear that she can’t do what she feels is her best work and still hit the monthly deadlines. We’ve been assured that both are working on projects further down the line, but that aren’t ready to be announced yet.

    So, does it sound to you like Marvel is making more of an effort? Is it enough that they should be exempt from the same criticisms targeted at DC? Keep in mind Marvel publishes somewhere in the realm of 20 to 30 more titles a month then DC. So just on numbers alone it should stand to reason that they’d employ more women and have more female led/starring books on average, right?

    I realize this is getting TL;DR, so I’ll sum up.

    Should the question we be asking this: “Is DC being targeted because the issue is so pervasive throughout corporate superhero publishers that smaller targets have to be gone after first and DC was lucky enough to get picked?”

    Or is the question this: “Is DC being singled out by a very vocal section of the fan base due to fan entitlement dressed up as concern over gender diversity?”

    I guess the answer to those questions will be answered in the days ahead. We now know that DC at least says they’re listening. Is it ‘Mission Accomplished’ or is it time to spread the message to others who need to hear it?

  113. William Green says:

    Could the simple answer be that female writers are generally not attracted to the paternalistic and chauvinistic world of mainstream superhero stories?

  114. @X I think you’re right about DC perhaps being unlucky here, but they also had, in many peoples’ eyes, an opportunity with the new launch that they didn’t take advantage of. The fact that the numbers fell, then with the Oracle debacle, it was just the perfect storm. I think Marvel should be held accountable too, but my point was that they are publishing stuff without saying “I hear you.” I don’t buy that its just good PR — as many have noted, not many people bought the Pixie limited series and it wasn’t advertised that well. Same with Heralds — but the goal might have been to just get them into trades.

    You are right on about the derivative characters. This is a core issue. This might be a big part of the Oracle/Batgirl backlash too, you know?

  115. Shawn Kane says:

    I’ll read a good Superman story by Louise Simonson. I’ll read a good Superman story by Gail Simone. I’ll read a good Superman story by John Byrne. I’ll read a good Superman story by Grant Morrison. I want them to be good Superman stories. I truly believe that Gail Simone and Louise Simonson can write a better Superman story than Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Greg Rucka, and JMS have in the last two years but editorial has to keep it’s hands off the characters direction.

  116. Hire more women… to staff the kitchen.

  117. Anthony says:

    Proof positive of how smug and arrogant DIDIO can be. And you can actually hear his voice. It make your skin crawl!!
    Dan Didio, you truly are an arrogant scumbag, your a douche, you have taken away of what I held dearly from the DC universe and bastardized and alienated them and making them into something their not. It’s obvious you do not care about the real fans and of what they really want and you are mostly in it for the money and I will NEVER forgive you for it.

    I WANT MY DC UNIVERSE BACK, I WANT MY REAL HEROES BACK!!!!!

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